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The shock was intense. You rarely feel these moments of unknown fear, of being presented with something almost unfathomable. But there it was. Behind the bins, in midtown New York City, in an almost foetal position, the perfect skeleton of a small horse—or perhaps a donkey. It appeared so serene, curled perfectly, like it had just laid down, fallen asleep, and died. But, it shouldn’t be there between a large, metal industrial bin on four wheels and four other smaller bins made from plastic. If this were Dakota or some other out of the way place, then perhaps, but here in New York? The beast must have been killed and left—he could not comprehend the idea of a wild horse roaming the streets of the Big Apple without ever being seen. Perhaps it was a gift that was tied up and forgotten about. Perhaps it was a police horse, shot in the line of duty and left to be cleaned up, but urban dogs and foxes had formed a pack and dragged it off. For days, he could not get this picture out of his head. This animal did not belong here. Where did it come from? It was a true New York immigrant, out of place, unseen, unquestioned. It had lived its life under the radar. No one noticed it. It made him wonder what else went on in the city that no one stopped to look at or register. It made him wonder what other animals were on the streets. The horse seemed a perfect metaphor for this city and how it treated its citizens. The next day, he walked through Central Park and saw three police horses, he shuddered, realising he had never really looked at a horse before. He had never really seen how large they were, how they towered over you, intimidating you—no wonder the cops used them—and a beast that size running at you was certainly something to get out of the way of. But was this the same creature that he had seen behind the bins? He was starting to doubt himself. The animal wasn’t that big, although it was curled up; perhaps with all the mass of muscle and sinew shed off, the resulting wireframe, or maquette, of a horse would be much smaller. Was it even a horse, and why did his brain jump to this conclusion? Could it have been a large dog, an Irish wolfhound, or the like? He’d seen pictures of children riding these large dogs like horses. These dogs would not turn an eye; perhaps the dog had died on its owner and the owner didn’t know what to do with the body? It wouldn’t fit in a bin. Do you take dead dogs to the vet? Is there an animal mortuary? He became more and more paranoid as he passed by dark passageways and wandered in parks. He kept thinking that he was seeing things. His fear of being mugged was, overnight, replaced with a fear of being mauled by a large animal; surely the skeleton couldn’t have been a bear. He went back to photograph the skeleton—it seemed like a massive oversight the first time not to get his phone out and take a few pics. Thinking logically, he should really go to the Natural History Museum, where they would surely have the skeletons of beasts that he could compare. He dreaded the idea of revisiting the scene, but curiosity would not let go. To his relief, he had trouble locating the exact spot where he had seen the skeleton, but eventually he managed to get back there, only to find the skeleton gone. Was the fact that he had seen it so clearly an indication that it had been discovered when he had seen it and was just awaiting clearance, or was he making all this up?
I try to commit to a fifteen-minute write each day - recently I've become a little lax and I thought perhaps I could kick it back off by posting some of them here. I’ll start with a few older ones in the hope it might motivate me to post some newer stuff.
Clearly, the image above isn’t a Horse (a rabbit I suspect) but it’s as close as I could get from my archive - shot on the Nikon d750
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